, ,

Why a minimalist content strategy is the best way forward

Content consumers today are constantly bombarded with information and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to convince them to stop and read an article or blog post.

The key to an effective content strategy lies in your ability to express your message in a clear, concise and accessible format to your reader. Enter the minimalist content strategy.

What is a minimalist content strategy?

At the core of a minimalist content strategy is the base assumption that less is more. If you hope to get your message across to readers, you have to present it in a way they will understand. Create something that goes down easily, using a clear tone, direct vocabulary, and an easy-to-follow format. In other words, your text needs to get to the point without sacrificing the overall quality of the content.

When you present readers with a steady stream of articles packed with big blocks of text that overuse high-minded, academic vocabulary, you are alienating your audience. Readers will quickly lose interest in the article and your intended message.

A minimalist content strategy is more shareable

A minimalist content strategy is more shareable

To create a meaningful experience for the reader, you need content that is not only accessible, but also attractive and eye-catching. Make use of images, videos, and infographics to create something stimulating that readers feel motivated to share on social media.

How to plan your minimalist content strategy

The first step to implementing a minimalist content strategy is defining your core message. Take the time to carefully consider how you wish to present your brand to the reader. This is easier said than done and if ignored, can lead to an overly-ambitious message that’s confusing to your audience. Hiring a content agency is often the best approach to finding your direction and developing the perfect message for your target market.

Your readers want quality, not quantity

Focus on creating content that your readers want to read. No more blocks of keyword-saturated text that focus purely on search engine optimization (SEO) at the expense of the quality of the content. Moving forward with a minimalist content strategy will make you consider what your readers are really after, and what kind of message they will respond to.

Write articles your audience wants to read

Write articles your audience wants to read

By pumping out high-volume, low-quality content, you won’t create the kind of long-lasting readers that care about your brand. Readers want your unique perspective and expertise. Be honest about your vision and show them what you really have to offer.  


Struggling to plan your minimalist content strategy? Get in touch with VeraContent’s marketing team to discuss taking the headache out of your content – in any language.

, ,

The psychology behind clickbait: what it is and why we fall for it

“You won’t believe your eyes!”

“Shocking secrets, revealed!”

“…and what happened next is unimaginable!”

Sound familiar?

You might have noticed that eye-catching article titles and questionable news stories—not to mention excessive exclamation points—are taking over your social media feeds. This kind of content, popularly known as “clickbait,” has been stalking internet users more and more in recent years. These seductive headlines lure you into opening an article that contains poor content—which the average person spends under 15 seconds reading.

In other words, companies are feeding off the human need to gain more knowledge in order to build revenue via clicks-per-page. And many of us continue to fall for these headlines on a daily basis—but why? To understand, first we need to define the phenomenon itself.

What is clickbait?

Merriam-Webster Dictionary incorporated the term in 2015, defining clickbait as “something (such as a headline) designed to make readers want to click on a hyperlink, especially when the link leads to content of dubious value or interest.” To put it plainly, it’s a link that sparks curiosity and generates traffic, but ultimately leads to low-quality content.

The origins of clickbait lie in yellow journalism. This journalistic style relies on attention-grabbing headlines designed to increase sales, rather than objective and well-researched facts. It was born in the 1890s, when newspaper magnates Joseph Pulitzer and William Randolph Hearst were engaged in a furious competition for readership. They began using sensational titles in an attempt to attract readers as quickly as possible.

Another of the fathers of clickbait is journalist Vincent Musetto, who in 1983 covered a story about a bar owner being shot to death after an argument with a customer. Its title, “Headless body in topless bar,” is considered by many to be the first truly audacious headline. These kinds of developments set the tone for today’s digital battle for clicks and views, in a world where content is more abundant and accessible than ever before.

Vincent Musetto's sensational headline is an early example of clickbait's origins in journalism.

The infamous cover story (image courtesy of the New York Post)

Exploiting curiosity and clicks

Clickbait takes advantage of the human need to expand our knowledge, whether it be through funny cat videos, quantum physics, or that poorly-written article blowing up your Facebook feed. This universal human curiosity has been explained by George Loewenstein, an economics and psychology professor at Carnegie Mellon University, in his information gap theory. It states that humans have a constant, unsatisfied need to accumulate knowledge, whether it’s useful or not.

Information gap theory can help explain clickbait’s psychology when it comes to the reader—but on the company’s end, things are much more financially-motivated. Pay-per-click advertising allows companies to earn a fixed amount of money for each click or view an article receives. This creates a high demand for intriguing titles, but not so much for intriguing content. The initial click is the money-maker, so what comes after is much less important. As a result, articles are churned out faster and faster, with a corresponding drop in quality.

The power of post-click

Beyond the issues of low-quality content and greed, there’s also the problem of data collection. If audience perception is measured solely through clicks-per-page and views, the results won’t reflect the content’s true value. To obtain accurate and meaningful data, companies should shift their focus to post-click statistics: article sharing, movement to other articles, and the time spent on each one.

Post-click statistical measurement is slowly on the rise among companies, especially those focused on producing quality content and creating a loyal audience. This encourages marketing strategies that tap into a different part of human psychology: emotions. For example, it’s a widely known fact that advertisements and logos strategically utilize colors to manipulate consumers’ emotions—and motivate their purchases.

Articles can tap into readers' emotions to generate traffic and interest in content.

Angry readers means more likes

Similarly, articles can evoke emotions in readers that inform their post-click choices. Research has shown that when an article sparks anger, the viewer is more likely to “like” it. When a piece of content is inspirational, however, the viewer is more likely to share it. Using these emotional responses to engage readers and maximize viewership is an increasingly important marketing strategy.

The social media clickbait battle

The debate around clickbait is getting more heated by the day, enraging users across the vast expanse of the Internet. Some social media platforms are even considering changing their algorithms to reduce the amount of unwanted content on users’ feeds. Facebook, for example, has already taken concrete action to remove clickbait and fake news. One of their tactics consists of reviewing articles and labeling them as “disputed” if their content is of questionable quality. With 2 billion users worldwide and an infinite amount of circulating content, they’ve got a lot of work ahead of them—but it’s a start.

Hopefully, other platforms will follow Facebook’s lead and start implementing strategies to fight back against the clickbait invasion. If post-click analysis and a focus on emotional impact can successfully overtake the pay-per-click paradigm, our feeds will be all the better for it. With any luck, we’ll see a decline in low-quality articles and a spike in well-written, substantial, and meaningful content that treats readers with the respect they deserve.


VeraContent is a creative language agency producing high-quality content that aspires to more than spontaneous clicks. To see what we can do for you, consult our multilingual copywriting service page.

The no-tears guide to newsletters

Newsletters do more for business than just spread news. A newsletter can benefit you in a variety of ways, depending on how you use it. It might foster workplace community, improve investor confidence, or bring in a new stream of customers.

If you’ve been tasked with starting a company newsletter, you may be at a loss for where to begin. Of course, you can always hire a content creation company to take the job off your hands. But if you’re determined to go it alone, these simple steps will get you over the hump and on your way to being the talk of the town (and the office).

State your mission

First of all, decide how your newsletter’s success will be defined. Your audience will determine the objectives of your content. If it’s an internal staff newsletter, maybe the goal is to disseminate important information and foster employee connections. If it’s for shareholders, you may want to show how your business is growing and generate excitement. If it’s for the general public, you’ll likely be looking for bridges between popular topics and your company to get people interested in what you do. 

In any case, you’ll need one or two central goals to focus on. It’s a good idea to create a list of these objectives and keep it close at hand. It will help you know where to start each time you write. When a newsletter draft is nearly finished, compare it with the list to make any final improvements.

Set a realistic schedule

All regularly-scheduled writing projects face the serious threat of burnout. You might start out with a huge gust of enthusiasm to write a newsletter every Friday, and within a few months find yourself struggling to keep it up. 

That’s not to say some people can’t pull off a weekly newsletter successfully. But look honestly at your workload and the rate at which your company generates news. If you have a small team and you’ve got a lot on your plate, a monthly update might be a better fit.

Set a content creation schedule to make your newsletter successful

Be sure to create a schedule you can stick to

Get to the hook 

People are often busy and distracted, so there’s no need for suspense in your newsletter. Don’t be afraid to put your most interesting story right at the beginning. If people are intrigued early, they’ll read on to see if the rest is just as good. And even if they don’t, at least you’ve gotten the most important news across.

Each section of your newsletter should have a punchy headline. Headline writing is a craft in its own right, but don’t be intimidated. Headlines should be short, to the point, and in the active voice. It shouldn’t be too hard to get a sense of what the article is about; people will skim past headlines they don’t understand.

Gather real news

The most crucial ingredient in your newsletter is, of course, news. You can’t refine it until you have some raw material, so start by brainstorming all the content you can.

When it comes to research, you don’t have to work in isolation. Take some time to ask your coworkers for updates and events they think are important. Individual success reflects positively on the team, so you might also encourage colleagues to submit personal accomplishments to be featured.

Collaborating with coworkers will provide content that connects with its audience

Fellow employees can provide some of the best content

Additionally, some newsletters might have sections for relevant industry updates. You don’t want anyone to upstage you in your own publication, but showing awareness of current events in your field demonstrates competence.

Switch up the format

Variety keeps readers engaged. Interviews with employees or outside peers are a great way to mix it up, and the interview process itself could be a networking opportunity. You might have another section for rapid-fire updates: tidbits of news that don’t merit a whole article. And don’t hold back on images; visuals break up the page nicely and grab the reader’s attention.

Technology is a big factor in how creative you can get with formatting. If you’re not very tech-savvy, consider using an e-mail management service like MailChimp. It will let you arrange your text artfully and bring designs and graphics right to the reader’s inbox. It also provides analytics, so you can track readership and optimize your strategy based on how people are interacting with the newsletter. 

Sell yourself

If you want your newsletter to reach the general public, you’ll need to go big. Make it easy for anybody who interacts with your company, even fleetingly, to get on the list. Prominently display sign-up links on your website, during purchasing processes, and anywhere else you’re publicized.

Make your newsletter user-friendly to generate traffic and draw new readers

It should be easy for readers to subscribe—and unsubscribe

We’ve all had that irritating newsletter we can’t seem to unsubscribe from; you don’t want to be one of those. Provide an unsubscribe option and be sure it works. But while unsubscribing should be easy enough, subscribing in the first place should be even simpler. You might have noticed that since online purchases usually already require an e-mail address, a lot of companies just add a “sign up for email updates” check box to their checkout page. This is a great example of a quick and easy way to draw new readers.

When in doubt, trust your gut

Take all of these factors into account, and then breathe. At the end of the day, one of the most important parts of writing a newsletter is, if possible, enjoying it. Anything written in a tortured state of mind will be torturous for the reader. Depending on your brand and your audience, your newsletter might not be a barrel of laughs, per se, but as a human being, your instincts are probably pretty good on what other people actually want to read. Listen to those instincts. They’ll usually steer you true.


If you’d rather leave your newsletter to the professionals, get in touch with our marketing team at VeraContent who have years of experience delivering email content in multiple languages.

,

How to write a killer crowdfunding campaign pitch

Crowdfunding has been one of the biggest upheavals to the business world. It has shifted the control of investment and enabled a whole new generation of entrepreneurs to bring their visions to life. But not every crowdfunding campaign turns to gold. Here are five key steps for how to nail your pitch.

Choose the right crowdfunding platform

Before you start building your crowdfunding campaign, you’ll need to choose a home for it. Many entrepreneurs are getting off the ground using established crowdfunding websites. These sites offer a huge boost in visibility,  but they often hit you with high fees which can put a real dent in your funds. You may want to consider one of the smaller sites, each with their own benefits and niches.

The most high-profile option is Kickstarter. The site is mainly for creative and tech projects and has an all-or-nothing funding policy. This means that if your campaign doesn’t reach its funding goal, none of the backers pay you anything. This has its disadvantages, but also reduces the risk for backers so they’re more likely to fund your project. Kickstarter’s main competitor Indiegogo is quickly catching up by offering more flexibility. It allows the all-or-nothing funding method, but also has the option of flexible funding, whereby you keep however much you’ve been pledged. Indiegogo also has a lot more campaign options.

IndieGoGo or KickStarter?

IndieGoGo offers more flexible funding options than competitor Kickstarter

The other giant currently on the crowdfunding scene is GoFundMe. This site is primarily geared towards individuals for personal needs rather than business ventures. GoFundMe is full of nice reminders of how generous strangers can be, but the site has been criticized for its usage fees. YouCaring has less name recognition, but is considered a strong alternative with no cost to use other than credit card processing fees.

Find the hook for your pitch

Once you have your platform, it’s time to start writing the pitch itself. Like any marketing campaign, it’s important to determine the problem your product solves and make your solution compelling to backers. 

If English isn’t your native language, you’ll likely want a multilingual content agency to prepare it for you, or at least edit it. You may also want to offer your pitch in multiple languages, which can be a bit tricky. Kickstarter doesn’t have the option to change the language, so you’ll have to put your translation on the same page, which could more than double the amount of copy your potential backers will have to read throughso keep it simple and concise.

If you really want your campaign to go viral, a well-made video is a great idea. This works especially well if your product is at all visually interesting, or if it does something cool that can be demonstrated. Smart gadget videos are catnip to Facebook sharers and their procrastinating friends. Invest in help if nobody on your team is savvy enough to make a good video. It will pay off. Also, bear in mind your video will need to be translated if you’re offering your pitch in multiple languages, although subtitles could be a simpler option.

In terms of style, phrases like “receive” and “offer” will pull better results than words like “help” and “support”. Make it clear why you need the money and why you’ve decided to crowdfund. People can be kind, but they’re also pragmatic; they want to know what’s in it for them. Speaking of which…

Make the backer rewards appealing

The most important thing in any marketing campaign is to make people want your product, but in crowdfunding, there’s an intermediate item to sell: your backer rewards. These are the bonuses that backers get for contributing, generally with a scale of increased rewards for larger contributions.

How to offer Kickstarter rewards

Make your rewards appealing and you’ll attract more backers, as this one from Bishop Games demonstrates

Don’t underestimate the power of these rewards. We all love free stuff, even when it’s not really free. Someone who’s teetering on the edge of backing you might well be convinced by a good reward. Set at least five reward levels, with each level getting all the benefits of those below it, plus something extra.

Be sure to have a stretch level as well—something way higher than you might imagine anyone would pay. Even if nobody forks out $10,000 to back your artisanal macaroni and get a custom piece of their face, you never know. It shows you take your project seriously and expect it to be a success.

See how others are crowdfunding

It’s always a good idea to peruse your competition. Most crowdfunding sites have a homepage that features high-traffic campaigns. Go see what they’re doing right!

Timebound - a succesful Kickstarter campaign

One of the top campaigns on Kickstarter recently was Timebound, an app that teaches you about history. That doesn’t sound like an obvious winner,  but the campaign surpassed its $20,000 goal in a short period. Why? It brands itself as “the app that makes time travel possible,” with the tagline “Live through the most important events in history—in real time!” That’s the kind of magic that people visit crowdfunding sites for. That’s not to say you can only succeed if your product promises actual science fiction, but almost anything can engage a certain spirit of adventure.

Get the world watching

Once you have a well-written campaign page with fabulous rewards, it’s time to get the world’s attention. Start by using any leverage you already have. It’s not unreasonable to post some sort of reminder about your campaign to your company’s social media every day. You can even start hyping it up before it actually launches. Just don’t bash people over the head with it.

Call on any famous friends your company has that can give you a boost. One tweet from a big name can change the life of a crowdfunding campaign. This is another thing you can be working on well before your campaign actually launches. People are more likely to support something that others are already supporting. 

 

There will always be a certain amount of luck involved in wooing crowdfunders, but all of these strategies will help ready your campaign for greatness. If you really want to get ahead, think about hiring someone who specializes in writing for crowdfunding. Experience with successful campaigns goes a long way to teach someone what works. This is why if you’re tackling the job on your own, researching successful campaigns is a great idea.

Crowdfunding ventures flop every day, but if you strike gold, your life could change overnight. With such bright possibilities, it’s no wonder crowdfunding is gaining so much traction. We hope these steps bring you closer to your golden ticket.


Need someone to take the stress out of writing your crowdfunding campaign? Whether it’s a multilingual pitch or in one language, VeraContent’s experienced multilingual copywriting and marketing team would be happy to discuss your project and make sure your crowdfunding campaign is a success.

,

The psychology of good web design

Making a great first impression is important, and that goes double for websites. If you’re designing a multilingual website for your business, consider harnessing these subconscious influences for maximum effect. Read on for five small things that can make a big difference to your website.

Color

If asked to associate colors with feelings, most of us could easily rattle off some common clichés—blue and green are calming, red is energizing, purple is royal and sophisticated… The trouble with laying out a hard and fast index of color associations is that in practice, color meanings are often very subjective. One person might have a garden full of daffodils and see yellow as a happy energizing color, while someone else might remember the time they ate five bananas in a row and felt queasy. 

Website colors

The colors you use in your website can speak volumes about your brand

So you can’t put too much stake in your color choices sending a crystal-clear message. The best you can do is make sure your color choices doesn’t obviously clash with your brand’s identity. Pull up any famous logo and it’s not too difficult to work out why its colors were chosen. For example, notice how the discount store chain Target, which aims to be unpretentious and “of the people”, uses a simple unpretentious primary red. The same goes for McDonald’s friendly color scheme: eye-catching yellow and hunger-inducing red (most fast-food chains opt for red because it’s said to trigger appetite).

Meanwhile, Chipotle, the sophisticated side of American fast food, uses a deeper maroon hue. Imagine if Target’s logo was a dove-gray fleur de lis, or if Chipotle branded itself with neon orange. It would change the image entirely, and you would feel instinctively that something was wrong. These considerations are vital when designing a website, especially a multilingual website where colors can also have cultural significance.

Contrast

Color contrast adds interest and guides a viewer around a webpage. Our eyes are drawn to contrast, and we also remember information longer when it stands out visually. So if you want to get people to click on a certain button or remember a name or phrase, make it pop, like a bright red against a field of pale blue.  

If you’re using WordPress or another helpful platform for your site, you can take advantage of the pre-set color scheme options. These are nice tools for those who aren’t trained in graphic design. They let you get a more complex-looking final product without risking color clash, because they pre-pair shades that work well together.

Font

When it comes to typefaces, you must once again think hard about your brand and what qualities your core customer will be looking for. An elaborate script could intrigue a luxury shoe shopper, but strike someone looking for combat boots as snobby and bourgeois. A slick sans-serif font could speak to a hipster seeking a metropolitan hotel but come off as flighty and untrustworthy to a family that needs a bank.  

Website fonts

This font might look great on paper, but online it might be harder to read

Also important to pay attention to is the combinations of different fonts your webpage uses. If your page is too uniform, it can be like speaking in a monotone voice; everything would run together and the viewer might lose the sense of how to navigate the page. Contrast principles of color apply to fonts as well. If you want a headline or phrase to stand out, make it bold and sans-serif where the rest of the page is more delicate, or curly and ornate where its surroundings are utilitarian. If you want to keep things simple, there’s also the option of sticking to different versions of one font, adjusting the size, boldness, or italics.

When translating your website into multiple languages, be sure to check out how each language looks in your chosen font in case certain characters don’t display clearly.

Spacing

We rarely pay attention to a page’s spacing when it’s done well, but we notice if it’s out of whack. Spacing affects all elements of your webpage. Lines of text must be spaced so the reader doesn’t get them mixed up, but also doesn’t have to leap too far from one to the next. Both of these defects can make the information hard to follow. Different sections of text should be arranged on the page so that it’s clear where one ends and another begins.

In addition, pay attention to the overall composition of the page. Is there enough negative space, with no text or images filling it? If your site is a wall of words or too busy, a visitor might be overwhelmed. If one page is overstuffed with content, consider breaking it up into sub-pages, making sure there’s an easy-to-navigate menu. Let viewers get your message at a comfortable pace, not as an info dump.

Multilingual websites must take special consideration for spacing as formatting can unfortunately change with the text.

Mobile compatibility

Your work isn’t done when your website is a beautiful symphony of color and typeface. It will all be for naught if you haven’t made it compatible with mobile devices. These days, a big portion of your viewers will be browsing from their phone or tablet, and they won’t be impressed if the content is garbled or won’t load. Even if they stick around and suffer through it, a mediocre site reflects badly on your competence.ç

Mobile compatibility

Not having a well-designed mobile site today can lose you valuable users

Luckily, WordPress and other website builders can handle this issue for you. If there’s an option to create a mobile version of your site, take it. You might wish everyone could see your desktop site in its full glory, but it’s better to accept the limitations and take control of your brand’s mobile face. A mobile site should generally be simpler and less cluttered to cut back on tiny touch-screen buttons and frustrating wrong clicks. Pictures are always attention grabbing, so be sure they show up on mobile devices. On WordPress, it helps to save your images and upload them to the blog photo library, rather than copying and pasting. This will make them more stable and less likely to malfunction across platforms.

Be sure to check your mobile site thoroughly in every language it offers as formatting errors can occur on the small screen that don’t necessarily affect the desktop version.

Put it to the test

Once you think you’ve got your site design as tight as possible, it’s time to do some testing. The most obvious way to do this is to have members of your team look at it and pick out anything awkward or distracting. A pair of eyes besides your own will be helpful; it’s hard to see something objectively when you’ve been staring at it for too long.

However, to really test your site, you’ll need outside help, people who can mimic potential customers. Be clear on what concrete outcomes you want from your website. Do you want visitors to make a purchase, join a mailing list, or request more information? These specific results are what web designers call conversions.

A great way to test conversion success is with A/B testing. A/B testing shows a pool of subjects two different versions of a page, and tracks which version most often produced the desired click. Google Analytics offers an A/B testing service; this is a great proactive step to optimizing your site.

Web design is a specialized career, and this guide is of course no substitute for those years of study. But if you’re still getting off the ground and don’t have a design team, these key considerations are a good place to start. 


Don’t launch a live version of your multilingual website if you’re not 100% sure the language, tone and style is accurate. VeraContent offers proofreading, translation and copywriting services to make sure your multilingual website launch goes off without a hitch.

, ,

6 WordPress plugins every multilingual site needs

If there are two things that are essential for any growing company today, it’s online presence and multilingual content. So if you’re looking to set up or improve a multilingual website, you’re already ahead of the curve.

Using WordPress as a content management system (CMS) makes things a lot simpler and cuts down fusing with coding; but at first glance it can limited. However, the vast assortment of third-party plugins that WordPress supports enables users to customize and supercharge the site to their advantage. Since multilingual content has its own host of challenges, here are some tips on the plugins you should start using right away.

1. Yoast SEO

Your website is pretty useless if nobody ever finds it. Most people rely on search engines to navigate the world wide web, which use algorithms to decide what to show. If you have have an idea of what those algorithms are, you can adjust your web content to play by them more effectively. This is called search engine optimization, or SEO. But not all of us can be SEO experts, which is why it’s great to have Yoast take the lead. Yoast SEO is a one-stop shop for sprucing up your content and better position it in search results.red ink editing

Yoast won’t do all the leg work though (you’ll need to write the content or hire a multilingual copywriting agency with SEO knowhow for that), it acts more as a friendly proofreader. It will tell you if your copy is too wordy, advise you on keyword density, coach you on optimizing the URL of each page, and so much more. When you put so much work into a web page, there’s no reason not to do all you can to ensure it gets to your audience. Plus, Yoast offers an explanation of each suggestion, so you can learn as you use it.

2. Google Analytics by Monster Insights

Google Analytics is indispensable for any website. It lets you know which keywords brought people to the site, so you can understand who your audience is and better cater to them. And this function is especially useful for websites with multilingual content. After all, no matter how well you know a language, you won’t necessarily know how speakers of that language behave online. If you’re using a perfectly accurate word, but the word clients happen to be searching for is a different synonym, it won’t matter how perfect the translated text on your page is; no one will see it.

Beyond search keywords, Google Analytics will show you the regions your page is getting hits from. This is obviously a huge asset for multilingual content providers, as it will let you gauge your success in marketing to foreign audiences. It could also let you know if you’re getting traffic from unexpected new regions and need to provide new translations. Those viewers could be interested in your product but frustrated by a lack of content in their language. If you’re not aware of this, you might miss out on a potential new market.

3. BlogVault

Nobody wants to lose content from a site they put hard work into, but if your site is stocked with high-quality translated content you commissioned from a professional, a tech meltdown could be an even worse blow. That’s why it would be smart to start using BlogVault, a plugin that backs up your entire WordPress site on a regular basis. Once you install it, you don’t have to think about it again—it works automatically and in the background.

crying with computer

Don’t let this be you.

4. Redirection

Redirection is a free plugin that manages page redirects on your site. A redirection is when a viewer opens a page and is automatically moved through to another page instead. Why is this useful? Some multilingual content sites use automatic redirection to spare their visitors the work of finding a button to switch languages. By setting up a redirect based on a user’s location—you can give your clients a more seamless experience. Trying to set this function up yourself can involve complicated and irritating back-end work, and could lead to error messages if you get it wrong. Redirection makes the process user-friendly and ensures functionality.

5. Multisite Language Switcher

If you don’t want to fuss with redirection, Multisite Language Switcher is a more traditional multilingual content manager that can help organize translated content for both you and your customers. The plugin will help you add flag icon displays to take visitors to the language of their choice. Some other language-selection plugins have fallen into disrepair as their developers stopped updating them, but Multisite Language Switcher is up-to-date and highly rated for its simplicity and handiness.

flags

6. Blog2Social

It’s no secret that social media is vital to a company’s online presence. When your audience is international, it’s wise to maintain multiple multilingual social media accounts to serve each region. However, this can get a bit daunting when every new site post needs to be cross-shared from each account.

Blog2Social can help you with this task. It lets you share a page to multiple accounts all from one place, with customized comments added to each. This way you can announce the update in the language of each different account, and share across cultures and platforms with much less hassle. The time saved on logging in and out of accounts, copying and pasting links, and trying to keep track of what you’ve already done will be time better spent elsewhere!


Need the professionals to take the headache out of running a multilingual blog? VeraContent manages multilingual blogs and social media channels so our clients can reach as wide an audience as possible.

,

9 keys to writing advertorials that drive sales

The effectiveness of ramming your product down people’s throats through direct print promotions and online ads is dwindling as consumers become wiser to advertisers clamoring for their attention and hard-earned cash.

Enter the advertorial: a portmanteau of the words “advertisement” and “editorial.” Also known as native advertising, sponsored content or branded content, the advertorial aims to engage the reader and convince them to use a product or service while not scaring them away with a more traditional “salesy” ad.

Today, savvy readers can spot an ad from a mile away and they don’t like to be sold to. For this reason, using advertorials as part of your content marketing strategy must be approached as more of a slow seduction. It’s more like buying the reader a drink and chatting (valuable content) rather than sending them running to the hills with an instant marriage proposal (“Buy now!”).

Advertisers are well-aware of the impact of advertorials, as sponsored posts are expected to earn a whopping $21 billion in 2018, a huge upsurge compared to 2013’s $4.7 billion.

Publishers like BuzzFeed, Wall Street Journal and Mashable are all cashing in on the custom content bandwagon, while Condé Nast launched its branded content studio 23 Stories on the back of its long history of advertorial success.

But what makes a good advertorial, why is it more effective than traditional advertising, and how can you convert more readers into customers?

1. Focus on good content

The key selling point of the advertorial is the credibility it has “borrowed” from the publication it appears in. Readers will effortlessly buy into a good advertorial with a strong focus on valuable content that dedicates only 20-30% to promoting the product or brand (they shouldn’t mind this if they just got a decent amount of good content for free).

When an advertorial offers really useful content, it has a much bigger potential to be shared or perhaps cut out/printed and put on display. You don’t see people doing that with standard ads. Creating content this good increases the chances of your content being read the whole way through and ultimately the likelihood of the reader responding to your call to action.

Take BuzzFeed. Their fun advertorials fit seamlessly into their editorial style and don’t sell without offering easily accessible value.

Buzzfeed advertorial

Image source: http://www.postadvertising.com/2012/12/buzzfeed-native-advertising/

There’s actually a lot of content on this page promoting Discovery Channel, but none of it looks out of place in terms of BuzzFeed’s style. In fact, if it weren’t for the byline referring to the client, you might be forgiven for not even noticing it’s sponsored. It could easily be posted on Buzzfeed’s social media channels and still not look like an ad.

2. Write an engaging headline

Remember the aim here is to position your advertorial alongside the rest of the high-value content in the newspaper, magazine or website. Your headline needs to hook the reader in the same way any other article on the page would.

Advertorial headline

Image source: http://www.directcreative.com/blog/advertorial-space-ads

The advertorial above has gone to great lengths to look like a news article, but its desperate attempt to sell makes it about as effective as a standard promo. An article with a headline like, “CleanCo’s latest product is blowing consumers away” screams advertisement. While it might look newsworthy with its mention of the “latest” product, it’s clearly been written for the benefit of the client and not the reader. Something like, “Nine DIY stain removers that’ll probably work (and one that definitely will)” grabs the reader’s attention and may even see them skip straight to No. 10, which just so happens to be the client…

Like any good sales strategy, your headline should instantly create a need to find out more by eliciting an emotional response; just make sure you follow through in the content.

3. Understand the client’s product

A good advertorial copywriter will be able to sound knowledgeable on the subject he’s writing about, even though he may be new to it. A great advertorial copywriter will know his client’s product inside out and will have conducted interviews to add further credibility and color.

When researching what the advertorial is selling, ask every “stupid” question that crosses your mind. These will probably be questions you might feel uncomfortable asking the client such as, “Wouldn’t it be simpler if your product just did X” or, “Doesn’t X product already solve that problem?” If the questions occur to you, you can be sure they will occur to a decent percentage of your readers as well.

Get in front of these doubts and inoculate your client’s credibility within your content.

4. Study the publication

If your advertorial is to blend seamlessly with the publication, you’re going to have to do your homework and learn how to mimic the style. A newspaper might call for a standard editorial style, while a listicle or guide could be a better fit for web content. It might be one-page long or six. It could include a short video.

Skincare advertorial

Image source: https://buzzazz.com/advertising-and-marketing/what-is-an-advertorial

This advertorial for Simple offers an easily digestible read with tons of useful info for skincare (it just so happens that those tips involve Simple products). Its style wouldn’t be out of place in a women’s health or fashion magazine and it in no way attempts to hide the fact that it’s an ad with a clear logo and call to action at the end.

Once you’ve got the style down, also consider that every publication will have different policies when it comes to advertorials, such as the obligation to include the word “Advertisement” or “Sponsored” at the top of the page.

If you get all this right and have a proven track record of producing high-quality advertorials, some smaller publications might even offer you cheap or free space in exchange for valuable content.

5. Use a byline and photos

Making it clear that the piece was written by a bona fide journalist or expert in the field will give your advertorial credibility, particularly if the name is recognized by readers. Original photos with captions will also help your article blend into a standard news style.

Some media channels will have a policy of using the client’s name as the byline to distinguish it from genuine editorial content. Try to negotiate the all-important human-being angle, but understand the publisher’s objective to maintain its integrity.

6. Make your advertorial digestible

According to a Microsoft Corporation study, the average person today has an attention span of just eight seconds. That’s lower than a goldfish.

With that in mind, don’t present the reader with a huge block of text that would require them to consider whether or not they want to invest time in reading it. Use subheaders throughout the content and break it up with good-looking images and side boxes that make it easy to eat up every word you dish out.

Listicles are a great way to do this as readers can still scan through the salient points and get to the call to action even if they can’t be bothered to read it all.

7. Tell a story

Story is perhaps the most fundamental reason why we might choose to sell through an advertorial rather than a standard full-color ad. While great marketers are able to successfully use storytelling in their advertising creatives, taking the time to really engage with the reader and get them to buy into you is what sets an advertorial apart.

Telling a story allows you to tap into human emotions in a way that simple facts and figures tend not to. This is why the advertorial has often been the preferred marketing strategy for weight-loss and insurance companies, as it’s very easy for them to sell a feeling and not a product.

Weight-loss advertorial

Image source: http://www.bly.com/newsite/Pages/portfolio.php

Weight-loss companies never directly sell a program or milkshake; they’re selling self-esteem, lifestyle and physical beauty. They tap into the reader’s emotional pain in these areas and agitate it, creating villains in the form of confectioners and fast-food restaurants, then offer a solution while firmly establishing you as the hero of the tale.

The above example may be a little in your face, but it immediately addresses all the obstacles most people face when trying to get into shape and agitates the problem with hurtful insults many overweight people will have heard before. It makes the reader feel understood and keen to read on for the solution.

8. Sprinkle with quotes

Quotes are a great way to tell the reader how great the product is without screaming it at them directly. Aim to get second opinions through interviews with experts in the field and not just happy customers, because for all the reader knows, they were paid to say nice things about it.

Also, be sure to ask questions that elicit color and engage the reader emotionally. If you’re interviewing the pharmacist that designed the new wonderdrug your client wants to market, bear in mind they might find the list of ingredients fascinating and won’t consider that all your average consumer cares about is results. Instead, ask questions like, “What does this drug mean for your average person suffering from X?” or “What was the most mind-blowing result of your clinical trials?”

9. Open and close with a bang

Advertorials must give the reader a compelling reason to read past the headline; there’s your first big challenge. But on top of that, your piece must finish with an even more compelling argument for them to go out and spend money on something they might not have even been aware they wanted five minutes before.

Hooking your audience and developing a narrative that keeps them reading until the end is imperative if they’re going to get to the call to action at the bottom. And it goes without saying your call to action must be clear, simple and contain any necessary contact details or webpages.

 

If you take one thing away from this guide, let it be the focus on offering value to the reader. Avoid any sneaky tactics you think people won’t notice like cramming web content with so many keywords it’s a chore to read or ignoring best practices in terms of titling the piece as an “advertorial” where necessary. Hell hath no fury like a reader scorned. They’ll flag you as spam, post negative comments or even write in to complain. On the flip side, a happy reader will share the article with their friends, put it up in their bar or help to build an online community around it.
At VeraContent, we know which one we’d prefer.

Is there still a place for storytelling?

The words “once upon a time” always leave us wanting more. No matter our age or maturity level, storytelling stirs our imaginations. We know that the story about to be told has the potential to transport us to another time and place, far from the weight of our own reality.

Human beings exclusively possess the ability to reason. We process information, infer, and form conclusions. This urge to make sense of the world around us is often attempted through storytelling. For example, we face our problems by relating to characters that have had similar experiences. This is why we are quick to remember the morals of well-known stories. Who won the race between the tortoise and the hare? 

storytelling

Techniques of storytelling

Storytelling is accessible to each one of us, and we engage this resource more often than we might think. We set the scene when we allude to the structure of a presentation before we begin. We lean on the pillars of storytelling when we use descriptive adjectives to spice up a sentence or add visual aids to engage the audience.

Oral transmission is the golden amber that fossilized storytelling. People around the world recognize references to El Dorado or the fountain of  youth. Even though there aren’t clear literary examples attached to these myths, we recognize the stories. Oral tradition has kept these tales alive, and will continue to give life to stories worth telling.

Making it memorable

Web content today aims to hit you hard enough to warrant a click. However, a click means nothing if the story you’re telling is forgettable. In the age of 140 characters or less, content has become more condensed than ever before. Don’t forget to tell great stories to keep readers engaged.
storytelling

Many companies have already gaged that the feelings associated with a product are much more appealing than descriptive facts and figures. Take the travel service company Momondo, who in 2016 released a study on the effects global travel has on character. In a short video, Momondo interviewed people from various parts of the world on their biases. Then, these people participated in a DNA test which would reveal their genetic makeup:

In this advertisement we watch various people take an individual journey deep into their family history. The story puts us face to face with relatable characters. We anticipate the reveal of the participant’s genealogy. Most importantly, we feel catharsis as the pain of the past is purified by the promise of travel and adventure.

Stories that matter

It is stories like these that encourage the absent-minded clicker to make connections with a new product. The results can seem forced or incoherent when companies try to integrating stories into content. To avoid this, choose stories that reflect your brand’s personality.

Storytelling in copy doesn’t have to be a work of fiction or a snippet of a murder mystery. In fact, most of the time, the best story is already staring you in the face. For example, American Express has created Open Forum as a platform for small business owners to connect and share experiences.

storytelling

Much of this content deals with fact-based methods to improve growth. However, part of this platform is dedicated to telling the real stories of small-business owners in a narrative style. This allows American Express to highlight the women and men behind the businesses.

Storytelling is a tool reserved for the human being. Whether it is through the cathartic act of writing down a narrative or sitting on the edge of your seat as a climactic scene reveals the murderer, we as humans will continue to feel energized by the transmission of stories. 

 

Photo courtesy of Blog Emailing